Proven Tips For Starting A VA Business While Working

Many people starting a VA business while working are still full or part-time employees. I know because I was one of them. I had a full-time corporate career and an infant at home when I started my Virtual Assistant business over ten years ago.

Before you continue, you can also listen to this blog post instead of reading it. Just hit the play button on the podcast below. 

I remember what a struggle it was to figure out how to juggle all the moving pieces and stay sane! You know, taking care of a family, working either full or part-time, and building the foundation for a successful long-term business.

If you’re like me and are starting a VA business while working, I want to share a few things that helped me find the time and energy to do what I needed to do to escape the cube farm. You’ll find a free sample work schedule and transition checklist you can download at the end of this post. Ok, let’s dive into the tips!

#1 Schedule Absolutely Everything

You only have so much time each day to fit in everything you need to do. Use a planner or online calendar and schedule out your days in detail. Now you don’t have to go down to the minute here, but you need to have a clear picture of when you’re going to:

  • Work on your business
  • Devote time to your mental and physical health
  • Do client work (if you have any)
  • Be at work (your JOB)
  • Spend time with family

You want to capture everything you need to do so you can create a realistic schedule and Action Plan! When it comes to doing your VA work, schedule it around your job and family commitments. Be sure to include downtime for yourself. Otherwise, you will burn out.

‘Starting A VA Business While Working’ Scheduling Example

Set aside 4 hours per day Monday to Friday when starting a VA Business while working. Get up two hours early in the morning and then work two hours in the evening. Then work 4 – 6 hours on Saturday and take Sunday off. It was the schedule I followed to help me launch my business. If you have a lunch hour, you can use that time to work on your business too. Just don’t do it at work (go to a local coffee shop, for example).

Remember, there is NO perfect way to do this – it’s trial and error. Just put something on paper and try it for two weeks. If it’s not working, tweak it and try again. But you have to get started. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

Don’t Listen To The Hype + Stay Focussed

It takes commitment to build a business, especially when you’re working in a JOB. Don’t listen to the hype that says you can learn to be a VA in 30 days or even 5 minutes. You might learn something but not what you need to build a long term successful business.

I used the hatred of my soul-sucking job to help me stay focused! I was willing to do whatever it took to escape! What can you use to help you stay focused? Find out what it is and use it to fuel your fire. Also, keep in mind that the practice of scheduling your time and tasks will help you when working with clients and deadlines.

#2 Talk Deadlines Not Schedules

First, remember, as a Virtual Assistant, you get to dictate when you work. You’re not an employee, so you don’t have to work specific “business hours.” I would tell my clients that I didn’t have set business hours, and then I asked them when they needed the task completed.

Now realize I didn’t offer the types of services that kept me in front of the computer during “business hours.” The work I did for clients could be done on my schedule when I wanted. The key was to deliver on time. 

But here’s the thing. If you offer admin based services, it will be hard to be available for clients when you have a job. Most admin work needs to be done during regular business hours since you are usually interacting with your client’s clients. And you shouldn’t be doing VA client work when you’re at work.

It might be time to pivot what you’re offering. Focus instead on what I call “freedom-based” skills (you can work when and where you want). These are skills you can do whenever you want, as they are deadline-driven, not time driven. They are techie and strategic based skills. 

What Are Techie And Strategic Skills? 

Here’s my definition – strategic skills are the type of skills that introduce a theory or practice such as digital marketing, email marketing, project management, or sales funnels. Techie skills are the tools online business owners use to automate their business, including email marketing and sales funnel tools. Techie and strategic skills work together to make you a highly sought after consultant who can work when and where they want.

So you may have to pivot what you’re offering especially when starting a VA Business while working. Because you can’t be available for clients during regular business hours. After all, you’re at work. Look at providing techie and strategic skills instead. If you’re offering more freedom based skills and a client asks when you’re available, remind them that it doesn’t matter when you get the work done. What matters is meeting the deadlines. Always focus on your deadlines, NOT when you do the work. It’s not a JOB.

#3 Work Around Your Commitments

When starting a VA Business while working your job is crucial as it’s still paying the bills. So, be sure to do your client’s work when you’re not working.

  • Go out for lunch and work at a local cafe or restaurant.
  • Get up an hour earlier in the morning and do client work or work late into the evening.
  • Look at your schedule and see where you can find extra time to squeeze in work.
  • Give up an hour of TV so you can work an extra hour.

Remember, you set your work hours, and the most important thing is to meet the promised deadlines to your clients. Keep in mind if you’re using free wi-fi, you’ll need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your connection and your data. Don’t take the chance of information falling into the wrong hands! I recommend using Tunnel Bear VPN. It’s easy to use – install and activate. I use it every time I’m not in my own office. They have a free version so you can try it out.

#4 Have A Support System

It’s so important to have people around you that understand what you’re going through. Who better than other Virtual Assistants? We’re a tight-knit family, here to support you on your VA journey.

Often, friends who have a JOB don’t understand why we’re starting our own business – they just don’t get it. My work friends thought I was nuts to give up my job’s security to chase my dream. I was lucky enough to find others online who helped me work thru the growing pains and struggles.

I invite you to join my Facebook community – VA Tips, Tricks + Advice to connect with other Virtual Assistants, both new and experienced. It’s a safe space to ask questions, vent, get support, and help each other succeed.

#5 Have An Exit Strategy

It would help if you had a plan in place before you’re ready to leave your job behind. You need to plan your exit! It’s important to step back and think about how your life will change when you’re no longer employed. You don’t want to quit your JOB before you’re ready. Take time to plan.

  • Things like how much do you need to earn before you can quit? You don’t want to leave to soon and have to struggle to make ends meet.
  • Or, what expenses are cut or alleviated when you’re no longer working for someone else? For example, you won’t be driving as much, or maybe you don’t need to take the kiddo to the babysitter every day.
  • What new expenses will I have? For example, different business tools such as a Task Management tool or hosting for your website.
  • How much do you want to have in the bank for emergencies?

Having a strategy or plan is a MUST for being successful, especially when starting a VA business while working. The VA industry is NOT a cookie-cutter industry – figure out what works for you. 

#6 Know Your Why

Your WHY is the reason why you want to start your own Virtual Assistant business. Ask yourself:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • Why do you want to quit your job and work for yourself?
  • Why do you want to build a business instead of having a virtual JOB?

My why is, I wanted my FREEDOM, and I wanted more FLEXIBILITY in my life. It is the driving force behind everything I do, even now. And remember, if your why is all about FREEDOM and FLEXIBILITY, you will need to offer something other than admin skills. They keep you tied to your desk during business hours – pivot to provide strategic and techie skills instead. 

Your WHY Will Help You Through Tough Times

You need to know what drives you – your WHY. It would be best if you had something to keep you going when the times get tough because they will. You will have a bad day, week, or even month. And, when you do, you need to focus on your WHY. I use a Vision Board to help remind me what I’m working for when the going-gets-tough. Put your WHY where you can see it every day.

It’s hard work starting a VA business while working – remember it takes time and commitment. You can’t do it in 7 days, let alone 30, regardless of what you might see on social media. That’s all, HYPE! Lean on your WHY when the going-gets-tough for you. Reach out to your Support System for a boost when you’re feeling low. Remember… you’re not alone!

It’s All Worth It

It’s possible to build a thriving Virtual Assistant business while you’re still working, I’m living proof. It takes commitment and persistence, but, in the end, all the hard work is SO worth it. You’ll have your freedom and the flexibility to work when and where you want.

Oh, and one last thing, be sure you take the time to set up your business systems if you want long-term success. You can read more about the 4 Key Business Systems here.

I hope you found these tips for starting a VA business while working helpful. They really did make a difference in helping me meet my deadlines and keeping my sanity. If you want a sample of the schedule that I used when I was working, an exit strategy, and a transition checklist, click below to download them all for free.

Thanks for reading – Susan

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Written by Susan Mershon

Susan Mershon started The Techie Mentor™ in 2013 to teach Virtual Assistants her no-fluff approach to the systems and skills they need to build and automate a successful business.

With a strong base in project management, Susan brings her love of systems and teaching to offer in-depth training and mentoring to new and experienced Virtual Assistants.

She’s taught over 5,000 students her unique systems and strategies that focus on offering high-end skills that give you the freedom to work when and where you want.

To learn more about The Techie Mentor™ and the systems and skills she teaches without all the fluff or hype go to The Techie Mentor website.

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14 Comments
  1. Rakesh Sharma

    Thank you @Susan Mershon for sharing such a valuable and informative content with us.

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      My pleasure Rakesh, glad you found it helpful.

      Reply
  2. Nichole Leah

    I always look forward to your emails and vlogs! I am building my business while working full time without a coach, so every tip you offer means something to my success. I do have an ebook collection that I have learned so much from since having to quit school over halfway through my bachelor’s degree 🙁 so this has been a journey for me and I appreciate all the guidance from the VA community 🙂 !!

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Nichole!

      Reply
  3. Lindsey

    Susan,

    Great Vlog, the timing for me is perfect. I am 2 months into starting my own VA/Bookkeeping business while working full time with a 2 year old. Your talking points really hit home for me and provided some guidance I didn’t even know I needed.
    Thanks for having such a resourceful website, you have a new follower!
    Heading over to join the Facebook group now.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Lindsey, glad it was helpful. See you in FB 😉

      Reply
  4. Rose Bigham

    Good video Susan. I have found it difficult because I have just completed a WordPress course at a college and much time was spent on that. There are other things I have to learn as well so it can be discouraging. Now I have to redo my website since I got a better idea now of how to use WordPress. 🙂

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Rose!

      Reply
  5. Cathy Goodwin

    I’m also sharing this with my career website, MidlifeCareerStrategy.com
    It’s very accurate – especially the point about allowing time for everything. Most people go out of their way to make everything seem easy. You’re telling it like it is.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Cathy!

      Reply
  6. Shelia Bruno

    Great blog, Susan!

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Shelia!

      Reply
  7. Anne

    Thank you very helpful!

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      My pleasure Anne!

      Reply
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